Policy Backfire The Reason Public Policy Institute, a Los Angeles-based public policy think tank, recently surveyed 33 cities in California to study affordable housing. The institute found that some policies actually discouraged building affordable homes and added a median cost of $22,000 to $44,000 to the price of all houses. Worst of all, the study showed, the number of new homes built falls sharply after the ordinances are adopted. The study can be accessed online at www.rppi.org.
Online Buildup Five new builders have joined the online consortium Builder Homesite Inc. Taylor Woodrow, TOUSA Homes, John Laing Homes, Kimball Hill Homes, and Crosswinds Communities signed up in July, expanding the technology-focused group to 35 members responsible for the construction of about 290,000 homes in 30 states. The Austin, Texas-based consortium now represents more than $80 billion in gross revenue.
HOA Headache A California couple sued KB Home, accusing the builder of underestimating the costs of maintaining their neighborhood. The lawsuit, which also names Richmond American Homes, claims that homeowners association dues were advertised at $79 a month when the plaintiffs moved in last year. But fees have since doubled. A KB spokeswoman said the company has been paying to maintain the common area "to ensure that our homeowners have not incurred any additional costs" and is "working closely with the [homeowners association] to resolve this issue."
In what could be a troubling precedent affecting many builders, the homeowners are demanding that KB pay the difference between the advertised fees and the actual cost of maintaining the development in perpetuity.
November Numbers Housing's importance to the economy and supply shortage concerns are likely to emerge as presidential campaign issues this fall. The NAHB hopes to help by assembling facts for candidates of all parties. In 2003, housing activity accounted for 16 cents of every dollar spent in the U.S. economy. Home builders will have to construct 18 million new home and apartment units over the next decade just to keep up with rising population and household growth. Financing this housing will require $3 trillion annually in new mortgage loan originations. Builders employ more than 8 million people, making housing one of the country's largest employers.
Runoff Rules State inspectors will soon be patrolling to see whether builders are complying with federal stormwater runoff limits. Permit fees might rise to cover costs of The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System program. The NAHB has posted a guide to the Storm Water Permitting Requirements for 27 states and Washington, D.C., at www.nahb.org/stateSWfacts.
Clarification & Corrections Mike Dwight's position was incompletely identified in “Coming of Age” (June, page 85). Frank Glankler is the president of the group of business units that includes Forecast Homes and Great Western Homes.
The headquarters of Christopher Homes was misidentified in “Models of Success” (June, page 32). It is based in Las Vegas. Erica Geiser's name was misspelled in the same article.
Not-So-Green A California state report promoting green building as cost effective has been found to be flawed, tending to seriously understate the true upfront costs and savings of recommended products, according to a Vancouver-based consulting group. Greenspirit Strategies, which advocates sustainable growth, found that the report, “The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings,” by 40 California agencies disregarded literature on the subject, lacked key data, and failed to acknowledge actual builder experience. A North American Coalition on Green Building is developing scientifically credible green building standards. Details can be found at www.apawood.org.
Noises Off Construction noise is the latest cause of friction between builders and municipalities. A group of nearly 100 home builders convinced a majority of Port St. Lucie, Fla., council members to postpone action that would restrict construction hours within city limits. Under the proposed law, no commercial or residential construction would be allowed to occur on Sundays or legal holidays. Residents making home repairs and city employees working on projects would be exempt.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.